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Over the last two years, Malcolm Gladwell has explored the relationship between those with and without power; hierarchies that create oppression. In May 2009, Gladwell wrote about Vivek Ranadivé in “How David Beats Goliath” for the New Yorker. From the outset of his new book, “David and Goliath,” he frames his research by retelling the story of David and Goliath. At its heart, David and Goliath is about our assumptions about being an underdog, what it means to have resources and a willingness to play by the established rules. Furthermore, “the powerful and strong are not always what they seem”, which is investigated through an analysis of events ranging from the the Holocaust to dyslexia to the Civil Rights movement. They are the stories of “how to cope with being outgunned and overmatched” while battling giants.

Explore Gladwell’s thoughts on “Elite Institution Cognitive Disorder and the Drum Major Instinct” from Truth Bomb Trails.

Wyatt Walker is the main character of the sixth chapter and is viewed through the lens of the trickster hero familiar common in African American folklore, Brer Rabbit. He “was King’s ‘nuts and bolts’ man, his organizer and fixer. He was a mischief maker” during the Birmingham campaign of 1963.

Six insights on the Trickster according to Malcolm Gladwell

The lesson of the trickster tales […]: the unexpected freedom that comes from having nothing to lose. The trickster gets to break the rules.

“Oh man, it was a great time to be alive,” [Walker] said, recalling the antics he got up to in Birmingham. Walker knew better than to tell [Martin Luther] King all that he was doing. King would disapprove. Walker kept his mischief to himself.

“Yes,” [Walker] replied, he found “pure joy” in poking fun at the “master,” telling him “one thing that you knew he wanted to hear and really meaning something else.”

The trickster is not a trickster by nature. He is a trickster by necessity.

But we need to remember that our definition of what is right is, as often as not, simply the way that people in positions of privilege close the door on those on the outside. David has nothing to lose, and because he has nothing to lose, he has the freedom to thumb his nose at the rules set by others.

You got to use what you got.

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